Alginate lyase enhances antibiotic killing of mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa in biofilms

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Alkawash MA, Soothill JS, Schiller NL. Alginate lyase enhances antibiotic killing of mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa in biofilms. APMIS 2006;114:131–8.

Once mucoid (alginate-producing) strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa have become established in the respiratory tracts of cystic fibrosis patients they can rarely be eliminated by antibiotic treatment alone; we have investigated, in an in vitro biofilm system, the putative role of co-administration of alginate lyase with antibiotic. Biofilms were maintained in continuous flow culture in a medium resembling sputum from CF patients. Antibiotics and/or alginate lyase were added to some of the cultures. Biofilms of two mucoid CF strains of P. aeruginosa were, in most cases, not eradicated by a one-week course of treatment with 64 μg/ml of gentamicin; the same concentration of gentamicin, under the same conditions, led to the apparent elimination of all biofilms of non-mucoid derivatives of these strains. When alginate lyase and gentamicin were administered together the apparent elimination of mucoid bacteria from biofilms was achieved, whereas the mucoid bacteria in most control biofilms treated only with gentamicin persisted. Ceftazidime treatment of biofilms was more effective against those containing the non-mucoid strains than those with mucoid strains. These studies support the view that co-administration of antibiotics with alginate lyase, which degrades the exopolysaccharide produced by mucoid strains of P aeruginosa, might benefit CF patients by increasing the efficacy of antibiotic in the respiratory tract.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa; alginate lyase; antibiotic; biofilm

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College, London, UK and 2: Division of Biomedical Sciences, University of California, Riverside, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2006

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